Fine. But what they couldn’t answer was this: Are TSA agents given authority to make decisions and judgment calls based on the situation? If so, why did the agent and his supervisor both shrug and tell me, “Sorry, it’s not our decision. These are the rules.”
If TSA agents are expected to follow the law to the letter, why, in in 2 years of traveling with a child, had I never been asked to do this before?
“TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport,” responded Ross Feinstein, press secretary for the TSA.
Really? Because it’s that lack of consistency that makes the TSA experience so frustrating.
Melissa C. from Simi Valley, California, had similar questions. She, too, was surprised when she was asked to open her pouches of baby food at Burbank International Airport. When she refused, the she was told that “someone” would have to get an enhanced security screening.
“That was the oddest thing, the fact that I didn’t have to be searched but my husband did,” she says. “They went through all of his stuff and searched him in a special area. I didn’t have to do any of those things.”
Now here’s a secret about traveling moms: We have only one goal and that is to get from point A to point B without our kid freaking the eff out.
I know how to get from home to airport in 20 minutes flat; which items should be checked versus carry-on, below the seat versus the overhead bin; I even know how to simultaneously put on shoes, repack a laptop, and carry a toddler after getting through security.
What I don’t know is when I’m going to be singled out or held up by a TSA agent.
Tawanna Browne Smith, founder of MomsGuidetoTravel.com, recalls the time she declared a bottle of breast milk at security.
“They opened the bottle and tested the milk,” she says. “I didn’t see them change those gloves. When your child is that young, you’re extra careful about germs, and I didn’t want to give that milk to my child.”
She points out her sterile containers of breast milk had never been tested before, and haven’t been since. “It’s not consistent, so you’re dealing with individual agents. I don’t know what type of sensitivity training they go through,” she says.